Woman humbled by teacher of the year award
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Drive by Rifle Middle School on any given weekend, and there it will be, plain as day. A grey Volvo sitting alone in the parking lot ” a symbol of the time, dedication and work ethic of its owner, Melissa Proebstle.
Melissa is a sixth-grade math and science teacher and this year’s recipient of the L.S. Wood Charitable Trust Teacher of the Year for Garfield School District Re-2. The award is rotated between elementary, middle and high schools and is given to one teacher in both the Roaring Fork and Garfield Re-2 school districts. It is intended to recognize excellence in public school, and thank nominees for their contribution to the community.
Though she followed her Air Force father around the country, Melissa always thought of Colorado as home. After graduating with a degree in biology from Goucher College in Baltimore, Proebstle quickly learned that science education was her passion. In 1999, she moved back to Colorado and began working with at-risk students at Centennial Junior High in Montrose. That was when she decided to become a teacher and go back to school to get her teaching license.
With eight years under her belt as an educator, her passion for education has not waned in the least.
“To get to do what I do is enough. But then to get this beautiful award, and recognition from my colleagues, is overwhelming,” she explained.
She is a master at instruction, but Melissa gets the most gratification from living in a community where she continues to hear the stories of her former students.
“I love hearing what they are doing and especially what they are studying as they find their niche and take steps towards entering their profession,” she wrote in her application.
But to get a true sense of Melissa and her dedication to students, the nomination letters say it best.
“Melissa encourages her students to take risks and encourages them to think critically about the situation that they are facing. Students say they value deeply her warmth, compassion and sense of humor. Students are always first in Ms. Proebstle’s class,” wrote Shane Bostic, principal of Rifle Middle School.
“We believe that Ms. Proebstle possesses all the qualities of a great teacher,” added Larry and Lori Schmueser. “Not only is she a leader and a motivator, she is an excellent instructor.”
In typical fashion, Melissa is humbled by the experience of winning an award that provides $2,000 to the teacher and a matching award of $2,000 to the teacher’s department.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be included in the nomination process with these wonderful educators, and to be selected as the nominee from Rifle Middle School is humbling,” she explained. “I consider myself very lucky to work in this district and very blessed. Many wonderful things have happened to me since I have been here.”
The L. S. Wood Trust was created by the will of Mr. Leighton S. Wood, who died in 1965, leaving most of his fortune in trust primarily for educational purposes. Mr. Wood devoted most of his career to the coke, coal and iron industries. At the time of his death, Mr. Wood was president of the Mid-Continent Coal and Coke Co.
Theresa Hamilton is Re-2 director of districtwide services.
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